The venom of Australia’s iconic platypus holds a possible treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Male platypuses produce venom during the breeding season and deliver the venom from their hind spurs.
Researchers are now looking at a hormone in the venom to see if it could be more effective and with more sustained action than current medication in the treatment of the disease.
Professor Frank Grutzner, from the University of Adelaide says the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) stimulates the release of insulin to lower blood glucose.
A modified version of this hormone is already used widely for diabetes treatment.
Speaking about the platypus, Professor Grutzner said: “We have privileged access to these amazing animals.
“We were surprised to see GLP-1 present in venom and think that this may have led to a more effective hormone.
Maybe this iconic Australian animal holds the answer to a more effective and safer management option for metabolic diseases including diabetes.”
The effects of platypus-derived GLP-1 are now being explored in detail with a $200,000 grant from Medvet Science, the medical research support and commercialisation arm of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network.
Medvet Science works on behalf of several hospitals in Adelaide to commercialise medical inventions.